The Toyota i-Road is entering service in a new car-sharing programme in central Tokyo in April. The ultra-compact, electric three-wheeled vehicle is already proving its value as part of a coordinated public transport scheme in Grenoble, France, and has also been put through its paces in Toyota City in Japan.
The new trial will now see i-Road paired with Park 24’s Times Car Plus service, which allows members to make use of a fleet of share-cars at any time of day. The scheme will also incorporate elements from Toyota’s Ha:mo urban transport template, which has also been adopted for the Grenoble project.
The Tokyo trial is planned to run until the end of September 2015. Usage data and user feedback will be gathered to assess ease of use, changes in user activity patterns and public receptiveness to new mobility systems of this type.
The focus is on i-Road being used for one-way trips to businesses, shops and sightseeing locations. Users will pick up their vehicle from the Times Station at the Yurakucho ITOCiA shopping centre and later return it to any of five central locations.
Park 24 will offer the service to Times Car Plus corporate members and some individual members as well. A web page will give details of availability and take reservations. Users will be required to undertake an i-Road training course before driving the vehicle. The service will cost 412 yen (about R38) per 15 minutes and the maximum usage period is two-and-a-half hours.
Park 24, which operates a network of car parks across Japan, created Times Car Plus to make public mobility even more convenient. The service has around 430,000 members and offers a wide range of cars for rental.
Toyota has been conducting trial operations of Ha:mo in Grenoble, France, since October 2014 and Toyota City since October 2012. The system is aimed at relieving traffic congestion, reducing air pollution and improving mobility. It links private and public transportation networks and is being trialled between railway stations and depots at public facilities around the respective cities.